There is ongoing debate within the multiple birth community and within school districts around the country concerning classroom placement of multiple birth children. Several states have already passed bills addressing school policies and several states have legislation pending. Here is an overview of what most of the bills contain:
- Allow parents of twins or other multiple births to request that children be placed in the same or separate classrooms.
- Allow a school to recommend classroom placements to the parents.
- Obligate a school to make the placement parents request, unless the school board makes a different determination based on the school principal’s request.
- Require parents to make a placement request within 14 days of the school’s start date or within 14 days of enrolling children, whichever comes first.
- Allow a principal, after the initial grading period and after consulting with the classroom teacher, to request that the school board determine the placement of a child.
Raising Multiples believes that implementing such laws (or even rules) that give one interested party (regardless of who it is) the complete, only, and final say is short-sighted and reckless. Bills stating that parents should have the final say in multiples’ school placement (together or separated) are not necessarily in the best interest of the children because parents do not always have access to adequate information to make an unbiased and informed decision. For similar reasons, we also do not support states having the authority to dictate placement.
We are in favor of an individual family collaborative agreement between the administrators and parents that is in the best interest of the children. Ideally, the decision should be made jointly, with both the school administration and the parents agreeing on placement. If a mutually acceptable agreement cannot be made, then an unbiased mediator should speak on behalf of the children.
Placement together should be strongly considered for multiples being separated for the first time from their primary caregiver (preschool, pre-k, kindergarten), unless there are extenuating medical or educational reasons for separation. In elementary school, the decision to separate or keep together should be made on an individual family basis, without legislation.
Raising Multiples supports more awareness by school officials, and would be glad to work with them to develop candid protocols to help parents make placement decisions considering only their children’s best educational and social interests.